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The Freedom Riders, The U.S. Army, And Me



Fifty years ago this past weekend, the Freedom Riders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which included student leaders Diane Nash and John Lewis, decided — along with many other similarly committed young people — that it was time to integrate bus stations in the Southern United States that were hubs of racist segregation.

Monday night, PBS broadcast a historical documentary that chronicled the strategy and decision-making by the leadership of the civil rights movement for racial equality that strategically applied the practices of Mohatma Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience, to the arduous effort to desegregate and eliminate the “Jim Crow” practices of the Southern United States. As the documentary reflected, the young people who chose to ride the buses of freedom that fateful month of May 1961 changed America forever.

SNCC’s decision’s was predicated upon the radical notion that it was time to test the authority of a 1961 Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia, that overturned segregation of bus stations, their restaurants and restrooms, which had become glaring Jim Crow symbols of racial segregation throughout the South.

The first bus of Freedom Riders that arrived in Anniston, Alabama on May 14, –Mother’s Day that year — was immediately set upon by an organized assailants wielding chains and pipes, and having driven the occupants to the back of the bus, in a split moment of time, fire bombed the bus, burning most of the exterior, exposing its naked and jagged frame.

“Meanwhile, the Trailways bus arrived in Anniston, Alabama where the driver would not continue until the group sat segregated,” SNCC’s historical records show. “A violent group boarded the bus and beat the African-Americans sitting in the front, causing several injuries until the group was forced to the back of the bus. A mob carrying iron pipes greeted them on arrival in Birmingham, Alabama. Many were battered, knocked unconscious and hospitalized. The group gathered the next day and prepared to head on to Montgomery, but no bus would take them. A mob gathered as they waited in the white waiting room, and finally the group decided to fly back to New Orleans, ending the first ride.”

Although I was only six-years-old when the Anniston bus burning occurred, by the time I was a teenager, I had come to understand its historical importance as a weigh station on America’s long journey toward achieving racial equality and dignity.

Anniston had become notorious for its violent acts of brazen racism and was an embarrassment on a world stage for the Kennedy Administration, who was planning the young president’s first international trip to meet with European heads of state. Indeed, Anniston’s bus burning and vicious attack on unarmed Freedom Riders would bear the heavy burden of ugly racism for many decades to come.


The card read something like, “You are not welcome in this establishment.” Of course, it did not say, “You are not welcome in this establishment because you are black,” or because I was associating with a black person, but we knew and understood its ugly message instantly.


Not only would Anniston’s bus burning serve as a barometric measure in my life for one of the ugliest incidents of racism in American history, but it would also become my unexpected home on two different occasions during my 15-year Army career.

The first time I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1974, I was sent to Ft. McClellan, Alabama for the Women’s Army Corps boot camp (I also had my first kiss there with a woman in the laundry room of Charlie Company, 2nd WAC Battalion.) I returned to Anniston in 1986 as a U.S. Army Second Lieutenant to attend officer’s basic course and served four more years at Ft. McClellan, before posting to Hawaii, where I served as a company commander.

During this assignment in Alabama, I bought a house in Anniston which exposed me to homegrown racial prejudice. The most memorably painful incident occurred during a lunch I was sharing with an Army colleague, an African-American woman, who was also a Second Lieutenant. While eating, a white man walked past us and laid a card on the table’s edge and immediately left the restaurant’s premises after his banal act. The card read something like, “You are not welcome in this establishment.”

Of course, it did not say, “You are not welcome in this establishment because you are black,” or because I was associating with a black person, but we knew and understood its ugly message instantly. We quickly left the restaurant and turned the card into Ft. McCllellan’s office of civil rights, hoping they would look into the incident and perhaps put it “off-limits” to base personnel.

Nothing came of our complaint and because our daily lives were otherwise consumed with training and graduating, we moved on. But that moment made me aware that intolerance was alive and well in Anniston, even though the Army and the city talked a good game about acceptance and respect for others. It would not be my last experience of feeling the sting of racism in Anniston and in other American locales, which not only punishes and humiliates African-Americans, but calls on White people to confront its ugly specter or become ashamed because of our complicity with the racists.

Anniston’s notorious history came into stark relief when I was assigned to serve as an escort officer for Brigadier General Sherian Cadoria, the first African-American female general in the military, who was making a return visit to Ft. McClellan in February 1986 in honor of Black History month. A beautifully striking woman, Sherian Cadoria was tough as nails, disciplined, precise, she would prove to be a generous mentor to me through the remainder of my career.

Cadoria, a deeply religious person, grew up as a child of tenant farmers and by the age of ten years, was picking at least 200 pounds of cotton daily. Her mother raised her to be proud, despite whatever humiliations she would sustain as a young African-American girl growing up in Louisiana. Her rise to the rank of General is a classic Horatio Alger American story.

I was thrilled with this assignment and thoroughly prepared for her arrival. This would be at least her fourth return to Ft. McClellan for Brig. Gen. Cadoria and her first as a general staff officer. She had entered the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) officer basic course in 1960, at Ft. McClellan, just months before the violent disruption of the Freedom Riders arrival at the local bus station. She returned for perhaps one of her most challenging assignments to Ft. McClellan in the 1970s when she became its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer, with specific responsibilities to interact with the Anniston community (during her assignments at Ft. McClellan she never lived “locally”–an impossibility she told me that apparently all black officers and soldiers adhered to as well.)

For Cadoria, this assignment must have been a frightening, yet, an empowering one. She later told me that the Army calculated to send her to Ft. McClellan, because of its rancidly racist past. They wanted Cadoria and the powerful symbol of who she was, in Anniston to work on bringing the local community in line with the Army’s goal to advance racial equality in the ranks.

I still think sending Cadoria to Anniston in the 1970s was a rather radical idea, especially for the U.S. Army. They could have not sent anyone more effective. She later returned to Ft. McClellan, to command a basic training battalion, before going onto commanding a CID brigade level command in Atlanta that led to her selection to brigadier general.

Cadoria, who retired from the Army in 1990, (the same year I decided to leave as well,) and I remained in contact over the next four years after I left Ft. McClellan for command in Hawaii. In a personally inscribed note to me on her official photo (above), after her 1986 visit to Anniston, she wrote “always remember our soldiers…god bless you.”

The Freedom Riders destroyed the yoke of Jim Crow in Anniston and beyond, and Sherian Cadoria, a tenant farmer’s daughter, would become a major symbol for the Army as it strove to confront racism in Anniston, through her presence at Ft. McClellan. I say god bless you General Cadoria and other brave souls like you, who followed the Freedom Riders by doing the difficult work of advancing racial justice.

The journey goes on, the work continues.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

Read Tanya Domi’s most-recent previous article at The New Civil Rights Movement, “Facing the 21st Century: A Brave New World of Challenge, Change and Caution.”

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‘I Feel a Little Bit Dumber for What You Say’: The Nine Worst Moments of the GOP Presidential Debate



The second Republican presidential debate was mired in in-fighting and personal attacks by the candidates,  a vow to wage physical war against Mexico, hate against LGBTQ people, an insistence the U.S. Constitution doesn’t actually mean what the words on the page say, and a fight over curtains.

Here are nine of the worst moments from Wednesday night’s debate.

The debate itself got off to a rough start right from the beginning.

Multiple times candidate cross-talk made it impossible for anyone to make a point, like this moment when nearly half the candidates talked over each other during a nearly two minute segment as the moderators struggled to take control.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate

Vivek Ramasway got into a heated argument with Nikki Haley, leading the former Trump UN Ambassador to tell him, “Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

Ramaswamy launched an attack on transgender children.

Moments after Ramaswamy attacked transgender children, so did Mike Pence, calling supporting transgender children’s rights “crazy.”

He promised “a federal ban on transgender chemical or surgical surgery anywhere in the country,” and said: “We’ve got to protect our kids from this radical gender ideology agenda.”

Former New Jersey Governor Cris Christie described the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, who has dedicated her life to teaching, as the person President Biden is “sleeping with.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, as CNN’s Manu Raju noted were “one-time allies,” after “Haley appointed Scott to his Senate seat,” until they started “going at it at [the] debate.”

“Talk about someone who has never seen a federal dollar she doesn’t like,” Scott charged. “Bring it, Tim,” Haley replied before they got into a fight about curtains.

Senator Scott declared, “Black families survived slavery, we survived poll taxes and literacy tests, we survived discrimination being woven into the laws of our country. What was hard to survive was [President] Johnson’s Great Society, where they decided to take the Black father out of the household to get a check in the mail.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently leading over everyone on stage, said practically nothing for the first 15 minutes. He may have said the least of all the candidates on stage Wednesday night. But he denounced Donald Trump for being “missing in action.”

Watch all the videos above or at this link.




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‘I Don’t Think So’: As GOP Debate Kicks Off Trump Teases Out the Chances of Any Candidate Becoming His Running Mate



Donald Trump, again refusing to participate in a GOP debate, teased out the fate of every candidate on stage Wednesday night: he will choose none of them as his vice presidential running mate.

The ex-president who is facing 91 felony charges in four criminal cases across three jurisdictions and is now also facing the dissolution of his business empire, brought up the running mate question around the same time the debate on Fox News was kicking off.

“It’s all over television, this speech,” Trump falsely claimed, referring to his live remarks at a non-union shop one day after President Joe Biden stood on the picket line with UAW workers.

READ MORE: ‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden

“You know, we’re competing with the job candidates,” Trump said, mocking his fellow Republican presidential candidates after he scheduled an event opposite the debate he refused to attend.

“They’re all running for a job,” he continued, as the audience began to boo.

“They want to be in the, they’ll do anything,” he continued. “Secretary of something.”

“They even say VP, I don’t know,” Trump said. “Does anybody see any VP in the group? I don’t think so.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Careening’ Toward ‘Risk of Political Violence’: Experts Sound Alarm After Trump Floats Executing His Former General


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‘Apparently You’ll Never Believe Us’: House Republican Melts Down After Reporter Questions His ‘Evidence’ Against Biden



Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) became defensive and accusatory after repeatedly being unable to answer a reporter’s questions in a press conference Wednesday, held to announce what House Republicans claim is “evidence” against President Joe Biden.

A shortened version of the video posted by the news organization Heartland Signal went viral, garnering nearly one million views in under three hours on the social media platform X.

“Mr. Chairman, question about the timing of all of this,” began an NBC News reporter identified by Mediaite as Ryan Nobles. “You’re talking about a two-tiered system of justice. If I’m not mistaken, on August 7, 2020 Bill Barr was the attorney general and Donald Trump was the president, so explain to me where the two-tiered system of justice comes into play. And then the WhatsApp message you have, I believe, is dated June 6, 2017. Joe Biden is not vice president or even a candidate for president at that time. So where is the direct connection to some sort of criminal malfeasance within these two pieces of evidence?”

RELATED: ‘Everybody Has Seen That’: Fox News Host Smacks Down Republican Pushing Biden ‘Burismo’ Video People ‘Not Talking About’

Chairman Smith could not only not answer any part of those questions, he appeared to forget a portion of them.

“Well, I think the facts speak for themselves,” Smith replied. “There’s over 700 pages of examples of, where people should be very concerned, when you’re talking about um, ah, – what was your first question?”

Smith went on to say, “It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House,” after being reminded them President at that time was Donald Trump. “We need to make sure that the Department of Justice works for all people and doesn’t treat those who are politically connected or wealthy much differently. And unfortunately, we have several examples that came forward by the two IRS whistleblowers, that proves that people are treated differently because they’re politically connected.”

“Are you suggesting that Joe Biden being the president now, is unfairly treating Donald Trump in his indictment?” Nobles asked.

Again, Smith did not answer the question.

“What I’m talking about is the 700 pages that we have before us, which is all the information that came from the IRS whistleblowers, and that’s what we’re releasing right now,” Smith replied, again not answering Nobles’ question. “And I’ll tell you, I would encourage everyone in this room to look at those 700 pages. If you think it’s okay, with what’s in it, then we live on two different planets.”

RELATED: ‘You F**ked Me – I Know It Was You’: Top House Republican ‘Exploded’ at McCarthy After Losing Chairmanship

“Can you explain the timing of the August 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?” Nobles continued..

“I’m not an expert on the timeline,” Smith admitted, before pivoting to say, “I would love to have President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timelines, because it’s really, really unfortunate that we see so many meetings and so many phone calls that involved around official activity that the Vice President has been participating in, and then big sums of money follows later –”

“But he’s not the president or the vice president at that time. Where, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president,” Nobles pointed out.

“He was a candidate – ” Smith claimed.

“On August 6 –” Nobles began before Smith interrupted him.

“So apparently apparent – what source are you with?” Chairman Smith asked Noble.

“I’m with NBC,” the reporter replied.

“So apparently, you’ll never believe us,” Smith charged.

“I’m asking you a very direct question,” Nobles explained. “You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on August 6, 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son. He wasn’t a political figure at that time. The first WhatsApp message you put up, where yo talk about the brand,” Nobles explained. “I’m completely open minded about this. I’m asking you specifically, how does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence being put over him, if at that time, he is not a political – he’s not an elected official?”

“I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item,” Chairman Smith said defensively.

READ MORE: ‘Jaw Dropping’: Democratic Senator Slams Tuberville’s ‘Open’ Talk About ‘White Supremacy’

“You presented it!” Nobles acclaimed. “It was the first thing that you brought up.”

“So apparently, you don’t agree with that. So report that you disagree with it. I’ll take the next question. Yes?” Smith said, refusing to answer any of Nobles’ questions.

Watch below or at this link.


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